In a new exegesis of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians that truly borders on the absurd, Francis goes after those rigid, dogmatic, tradition-loving folks again… especially those with social media platforms!
Who are they?
Preachers who, especially through the new means of communication, can disturb communities. They present themselves not primarily to announce the Gospel of God who loves man in Jesus, Crucified and Risen, but to insist, as true ‘keepers of the truth’ – so they call themselves – on the best way to be Christians.
What is the claim of these “keepers of the truth,” one may ask? Francis explains (our emphasis):
They strongly affirm that the true Christianity is the one they adhere to, often identified with certain forms of the past, and that the solution to the crises of today is to go back so as not to lose the genuineness of the faith. Today too, as then, there is a temptation to close oneself up in some of the certainties acquired in past traditions.
Rather like that disruptive fellow who said “hold fast to the traditions which you were taught” or something like that… oh wait, wasn’t that Saint Paul?
…Or rather, it’s like that other gent who said “What should a Catholic do if some portion of the Church detaches itself from communion of the universal Faith? … Then his great concern will be to attach himself to antiquity which can no longer be led astray by any lying novelty.” … oh wait, wasn’t that Saint Vincent of Lerins?
Anyways, Francis advises everyone on how to recognize these dastardly traditionalists:
How can we recognise these people? For example, one of the traces of this way of proceeding is inflexibility. Faced with the preaching of the Gospel that makes us free, that makes us joyful, these people are rigid. Always the rigidity: you must do this, you must do that… Inflexibility is typical of these people. … The new preachers do not know what humility is, what fraternity is.
The rigid! The inflexible! They don’t know the fraternity!
They began with doctrine – “No to this, yes to that”, and then they denigrated the Apostle. It is the usual method: undermining the authority of the Apostle. … In some Christian communities or dioceses, first they begin with stories, and then they end by discrediting the priest or the bishop. It is precisely the way of the evil one, of these people who divide, who do not know how to build.
Those divisive buggers – how dare they question a bishop!
Never mind if those bishops have forsaken the apostolic doctrine and committed crimes that cry to heaven for vengeance… anyone who questions such men is clearly the one at fault – nay, more: in service of the evil one.
Francis shows the true path:
We will come to see that the authentic way to share the liberation brought by the crucified and risen Saviour is through a humble and fraternal love, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit at every moment of the Church’s pilgrimage through history.
Yes, trust the fellas running the apparatus! Love and liberation and whatnot! They’re guided by the Holy Spirit, after all.
But What About Nostra Aetate??
Still, Francis’ Audience text does contain a rather strikingly Catholic admission, which the Vatican’s PR department seems not to have caught just yet.
In describing the error of the Galatian Judaizers (the first-century heretics to whom he compares traditional Catholics), Francis states:
They went back to the previous observances, those that had been superseded by the Gospel.
“Superseded by the Gospel”??
Oh no, oh NO!
He forgot Vatican II’s emphasis on “the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews,” and that “the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God!”
He forgot his (lately revised) catechism’s teaching that “The Old Covenant has never been revoked!”
He forgot the (original) proclamation of the USCCB’s catechism, that “The covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them!”
He forgot the insistence of Benedict XVI that “A mission to the Jews is not foreseen and not necessary!”
He forgot his own 2015 announcement insisting that “the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews!”
It’s as if, for one shining moment, Francis forgot all of his postconciliar modernist training, and accidentally announced the Gospel!
A little Catholic send-off on the point, from Pope Pius XII:
By the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. … On the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees [and] fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. “To such an extent, then,” says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, “was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom.” On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a bearer of death, in order to give way to the New Testament of which Christ had chosen the Apostles as qualified ministers.Mystici Corporis (1943), n. 29-30